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Flu Vaccination

What is seasonal influenza (flu)?

Influenza (flu) is a very infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects the airways and the lungs.

Flu circulates in the community during the flu season. The flu season usually starts at the beginning of October and lasts until the end of April.

Can flu cause serious illness?

Yes, the flu can cause serious illness and life-threatening complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and, on rare occasions, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

Flu also can make chronic health problems worse.

Some people are more at risk of these serious complications including people aged 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with an underlying health condition such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

A cold usually comes on gradually with a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose and its symptoms are usually mild.

Flu symptoms start suddenly with fever, muscle aches, headaches and extreme tiredness (fatigue). It may be difficult to tell the symptoms of flu apart from symptoms of COVID-19.

What is the flu vaccine?

A vaccine is a product that helps the body’s immune system (defence system) to fight against infections. Each year the flu viruses change, so each year the flu vaccine changes to provide protection from the new strains of flu virus expected

How does the flu vaccine work?

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies (proteins that fight infection). If you have had the flu vaccine and you come into contact with the flu virus, the vaccine can stop you from getting sick.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

We recommend the flu vaccine for:

  • People aged 65 years and over
  • Children aged 2-17 years
  • Pregnant women
  • People (adults and children) with long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic heart conditions, liver conditions, kidney conditions and chronic lung disease including COPD, or neurological diseases
  • People with cancer
  • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
  • People who are obese who have a body mass index (BMI) of over 40
  • People with Down syndrome
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-stay institutions
  • Healthcare workers
  • Carers
  • People who live in the same house as someone who is at risk of flu because of a medical condition
  • People with regular close contact with poultry, waterfowl or pigs.

What flu vaccines are available this flu season?

The 2021/2022 HSE seasonal flu vaccination programme will offer 3 vaccines:

  • the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (split virion, inactivated) manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur for people with long term conditions
  • the Fluenz Tetra nasal spray suspension Influenza vaccine (live attenuated, nasal) manufactured by AstraZeneca AB for children aged 2 to 17 years
  • the Fluad Tetra manufactured by Seqirus Netherlands B.V. for people aged 65 years and over

Why do people aged 65 years and over need the flu vaccine?

People aged 65 years and over are more at risk of severe illness, hospitalisation or death from flu. The flu vaccine is the best protection against flu. This flu season, the Fluad Tetra flu vaccine will be offered to those aged 65 years and over.

For people aged 65 years and over this is a more effective flu vaccine.

Why should children aged 2-17 years get the flu vaccine?

Children, especially younger children, are at risk from complications of flu.

Children carry the flu virus in their system for longer than adults do, so they can spread it easily to vulnerable people around them.

The flu vaccine protects children from flu and also protects vulnerable people around them, for example their grandparents.

Why do pregnant women need the flu vaccine?

If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk of complications from flu. The flu can also affect your baby, for example, flu can cause miscarriage, premature birth and even stillbirth.

The flu vaccine protects pregnant women during pregnancy and also protects their newborn baby during their first few months of life.

How safe is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is very safe. Flu vaccines have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people worldwide

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Common side effects are mild. After the flu vaccine you may get side effects including soreness, redness and swelling where the injection was given.

Headaches, muscle pains and tiredness can also develop. These side effects may last for a few days.

Serious reactions are very rare, a severe allergic reaction

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No. The flu vaccine can’t give you the flu.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?

No. The flu vaccine doesn’t protect against COVID-19. It is important to get both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine. This is because Flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses.

Flu and COVID-19 can both cause serious illness and if you get them you might need to be admitted to hospital. It may be difficult to tell the symptoms of flu apart from the symptoms of COVID-19.

If you have had the COVID-19 vaccine you should still get the flu vaccine.

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine if it is offered to you.

Who should not get the flu vaccine?

You should not get the flu vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of flu vaccine or any part of the vaccine.

You should not get the flu vaccine if you are taking two medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors (for example, ipilimumab plus nivolumab) which are used to treat cancer.

Those with severe neutropenia (low levels of a type of white blood cell) should not receive any flu vaccine

What about people with egg allergy?

If you have egg allergy, talk to your pharmacist before you get this vaccine

When should you delay getting the flu vaccine?

There are very few reasons why getting the flu vaccine should be delayed.

You may have to delay getting the flu vaccine if you are unwell – with a high temperature of more than 38°C – until you are better

Where do I get the flu vaccine if I am in one of the groups for whom the vaccine is recommended?

You can get the flu vaccine from your pharmacist.

If you are a healthcare worker, your occupational health department may provide the vaccine at work.

What does the flu vaccine cost?

If the flu vaccine is recommended for you, then the vaccine and the consultation pharmacist are free.

Is it safe to go to your Pharmacist to get the flu vaccine during COVID-19?

Yes. Pharmacists follow HSE COVID-19 guidance to prevent infection and to keep you safe when you visit their premises.


The following ingredients which are contained in the flu vaccine, please alert your pharmacist if you have an allergy to anything listed.

18-64 years - Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (split virion, inactivated) (Sanofi)

The vaccine may contain traces of eggs, such as ovalbumin, chicken proteins and of neomycin, formaldehyde and octoxinol-9, which are used during the manufacturing process. List of excipients: Buffer Solution: Sodium chloride, Potassium chloride, Disodium phosphate dihydrate, Potassium dihydrogen phosphate

18-64 years - Influvac Tetra suspension for injection in pre-filled syringe (influenza vaccine, surface antigen, inactivated) (Mylan)

Influvac Tetra may contain traces of eggs (such as ovalbumin, chicken proteins), formaldehyde, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide, polysorbate 80 or gentamicin, which are used during the manufacturing process. List of excipients: Potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, disodium phosphate dihydrate, sodium chloride, calcium chloride dihydrate and magnesium chloride hexahydrate

65+ years - Fluad Tetra, suspension for injection in pre-filled syringe (Seqirus)

Fluad Tetra contains the Adjuvant MF59C.1 containing per 0.5 ml dose: squalene (9.75 mg), polysorbate 80 (1.175mg), sorbitan trioleate (1.175 mg), sodium citrate (0.66 mg) and citric acid (0.04 mg). Fluad Tetra may contain traces of eggs such as ovalbumin or chicken proteins, kanamycin and neomycin sulphate, formaldehyde, hydrocortisone, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) which are used during the manufacturing process. List of excipients: Sodium chloride, Potassium chloride, Potassium dihydrogen phosphate, Disodium phosphate dihydrate, Magnesium chloride hexahydrate, Calcium chloride dihydrate. Note: contains polysorbate 80

2-17 years - Fluenz Tetra nasal spray suspension Influenza vaccine (Astra Zeneca)

The vaccine may contain residues of the following substances: egg proteins (e.g. ovalbumin) and gentamicin. List of excipients: Sucrose, Dipotassium phosphate, Potassium dihydrogen phosphate, Gelatin (porcine, Type A), Arginine hydrochloride, Monosodium glutamate monohydrate. Note: contains gelatin

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